A Sudanese court said on Thursday it had sentenced to death six officers in the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces for the 2019 killing of six students who were protesting at economic hardship as civilians negotiated power-sharing with the military.
The prosecution of personnel from the RSF – which is commanded by the deputy head of Sudan’s transitional governing body – over these killings and others alleged is seen as a test of the government’s commitment to democratisation after decades of autocratic Islamist rule.
In a statement on the convictions of the RSF officers, the civilian court in Elobeid, where the killings occurred, said the defendants broke RSF law and behaved individually, adding “their actions have no relation to the forces they were part of.”
It was not immediately known whether the six would appeal against the verdict.
The teenage victims were part of a student protest following the June 3, 2019 killing of dozens of protesters demanding a faster transition to civilian, democratic government after an uprising that toppled veteran President Omar al-Bashir.
At the time of the mid-2019 unrest, military commanders accused protesters of having been infiltrated by militants and that they had attacked markets and banks. Protest leaders said the demonstrators were peaceful and accused soldiers of shooting “indiscriminately.”